Wednesday, August 06, 2008

And I Did It My Way

My blogging buddy Vicki, who is formerly of Ann Arbor here, had a shopping challenge on her blog recently: see what $20 can buy you at the local grocery store or farmer's market. Vicki and her other blogging buddies have long since shopped and gone. But better late than never--the shopping mantra of men in America--I thought I would give it a try.

Pictured above is my haul. I visited Plum Market, a local chain of large shopping venues that specializes in fresh organically grown produce and unique specialty foods. Not cheap and we don't normally shop there. Anytime your local grocer uses paper bags with double twine carrying handles you know you're not paying bargain prices. That's part of the challenge though. Right?

But I did have an advantage in that I had a $5 coupon, good if you spent $25 or more. So I really got $25 worth of groceries, but only spent $20. Bend the rules but don't break them I always say.

I felt my haul was successful on a number of levels here. Check it out. First, I have all the major food groups covered: meats, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. Peanut butter qualifies for dairy, doesn't it? My wife Wendy asked, "Where the vegetable?" Sauerkraut, of course.

Then I grocery shopped according to a rule from bachelorhood long ago . . . buy foods that avoid dirtying cookware and can be easily prepared. Why spend a lot of time in the kitchen when other rooms in the house provide more relaxation and entertainment? The sausage--I have two different kinds for variety--are even pre-cooked though I could always throw them in the microwave to heat them up, or better yet, on the grill.

Also, find foods that are fun, noteworthy, or beneficial.

Honoring my ethnic heritage, I bought Polish sausage. Arena-style, so they must be fun to eat too. The kraut goes good with that as well. I never ate andoiulle sausage that I can recall, but some lady shopping nearby raved when she spotted this particular brand, saying that she had bought it before and it was delicious. She had visited Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Hiller's before finally discovering where that she had bought it previously here at Plum Market. Since I'm always a sucker for a food shopping tip from a stranger, I bought it also.

Note my sausage buns are from Zingerman's, a deli-restaurant-bakery that is synonymous with gourmet cuisine in Ann Arbor. Zingerman's is nationally known for their foods, their sandwiches in particular. I believe they're one of only a couple area restaurants mentioned in the Road Food best selling tome on travel eats. Vickie will certainly be familiar with Zingermans.

I also bought something that I can't remember even having before. Freshly ground peanut butter. I'm a big fan of peanut butter too. Wendy did wonder whether it had to be refrigerated since it didn't contain any preservatives. If anyone out there knows, let us know. Quickly, I guess.

Finally, I found a package of liver sausage flavored with smoked onion. Hmmmm. Ironically, I absolutely hate liver, and macaroni and cheese. Those are two foods I cannot eat going back to childhood. Yet, I love liver sausage, as well as macaroni and cheese separately. One of life's imponderables.

Thought the liver sausage with smoked onions could evolve into a good sandwich, one that could be beneficial on the days where I don't want to be bothered at work:

Boss: Dave, can you come here a second?

Dave: I'm HERE. HOW can I HELP you?

Boss: Never mind. I'll handle it myself.

So was I successful on my shopping expedition? By the way, as I told Wendy, what I bought could last me almost a week in my bachelor days. And would! Every meal is covered. Peanut butter in itself is an anytime meal.

Rachel Ray, eat your heart out.


Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, If the peanut butter has no preservatives in it you DO have to refrigerate it.

I think you did a good job shopping. There is nothing wrong with using a coupon as long has you don't go over the alloted figure. Good Job! Now I am hungry.

2:01 PM  
Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

Hey! Excellent haul. Love your twist on Vicki's challenge.

(Stopping by from there)

7:39 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

thought your haul was great! Especially the peanut butter. It's quite the staple in our home. Lucy's right about the refrigeration-the less it has in it,the more you need a fridge!

Haven't heard of liver sausage-would like to find it around here and give it a bite!

8:34 AM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

You have an interesting technique to your shopping, but I have to admit .... and I'm scaring myself a little here .... you did a good job!

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome, Dave! To find andoiulle sausage (cajun) at the price you paid for it is a great buy. We have it here, but it's a tad pricey.

I love using coupons. I once paid 2 dollars for $20 worth of stuff because I had coupons.


6:02 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LUCY--Thanks, we figured as much. Our PB, what's left of it anyway, is resting comfortably inside our Kenmore Coldspot.

LAURA--I've been waiting patiently to tell Vickie of my finds. But she hasn't blogged this week. Wondered whether it had anything to do with the storms that blew through Chicago.

CARINE--Not familiar with liver sausage?? You need to visit some down home meat markets in the Midwest.

LYNILU--I scare my wife when I do well grocery shopping. I almost always forget something, even if I'm just picking up a few items for her.

DEB--So andouille sausage is really cajun sausage. That accounts for the spiciness.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Kacey said...

Hi Dave! Glad you had fun with the shopping challenge, but I'm glad that I don't live at your house. I don't eat lots of stuff....among which, are sauerkraut and liver sausage. And this for Carine... liver sausage is liverwurst. I thought you are a food editor, Carine. I know they have such things on the left coast!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Heck, with $20 over here, you couldn't buy but maybe 1/8 of what you managed. I'm impressed!

11:54 AM  
Blogger doodlebugmom said...

Your shopping looks a lot like my husbands!

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a guy! Martha Stewart would be very proud of you!
But you DO know WHAT that andouille sausage IS, don't you?

5:31 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

KACEY--Liver sausage is liverwurst? I thought there was some difference. As in, liverwurst is more mushy.

TIM--I've heard that the dollar isn't worth crap anymore in Europe.

DOODLEBUGMOM--Yes, there are "man's rules" when shopping.

TERRI--I do know what andouille sausage is now. I'll probably stick to something less spicy from now on.

2:20 AM  
Blogger doodlebugmom said...

I think there are "man's rules" about everything! :o)

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A true bachelor's grocery list would be$18 for a case of Miller Lite and $2 for a pack of slim jims.

9:40 AM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Big Dave ~ When I think of Andouille Sausage, I think of only ONE thing... New Orleans GUMBO!!!
As for your comment on my blog... I reiterate the Winston Churchill quote ~ "Courage is the first virtue, without it, none of the others matter!" ~ jb///

12:21 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

I like to shop at fancy supermarkets like Whole Foods, so I can honestly say that I'm impressed with your $20 haul. And although I'm a mother and I'm supposed to know my way around the kitchen, your selections make an awful lot of sense to me. I for one never come home without some of that refrigerated P.B.!!


3:26 PM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Nice work, Dave-o. I once had a recipe that called for andouille, and damned but I couldn't find it. I guess I didn't shop at the high-end, like you high rollers do.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

Now I have to try that.


What a neat idea I love a challenge

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DAVE.. TAKES experience to know what you are doing and I think you did a swell job of it. So many stores now days you cannot get much for 20$..especially the specialty shops. YOU DONT LIKE
MAC AND CHEESE.. shame shame shame.. heheh Hope you have a great week. : ) PS
MOM IS 82 in last stages of kidney failure.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...


ANONYMOUS--Must be either the Enforcer or one of his progeny, most likely Vic. No wonder you guys are so skinny when you eat like this.

LZ BLOGGER--New Orleans Gumbo. Mmmmmmmm, that sounds so good right now at lunch.

BETTY--They're opening up a second Whole Foods in Ann Arbor soon. They do really well here.

HOSS--Don't start any rumors about my being a high roller. I would have preferred spending my $20 bucks at food found at the local dollar store. But you know Vickie; she would expect better.

CASSIE--I'm not usually up for shopping challenges but this one I could handle.

CAROLEE--Nope, doesn't matter whether it's homemade or velveeta, I just can't eat mac and cheese. And I've tried. Sorry to hear about your mom's disease. I guess she knows what diet will keep her doctor happy then.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Babette said...

I don't care if you are Betty Crocker, get your buns off my table!

Do all Ann Arbor gourmands choose their food with such refinement and finesse?

You forgot your GREENS!

9:20 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

BABETTE--Greens give me a sour stomach.

Hea, I saw your sneaky slight against my beloved Wolverines over at Hoss's site. I have a brainteaser for you: 2,475 days, and counting. Do the math. (Hint . . . when time literally stood still in East Lansing)

10:05 AM  
Blogger amarkonmywall said...

Greens give you a sour stomach and sauerkraut does not? :-) I LOVE this post and I'm sorry it took me so long to find my way here. Great haul for the money with fun and variety. The peanut butter looks like something I would be using as finger food late at night while watching Great Moments in Presidential Speeches.

Zingermans, yes! They used to have the best pastrami sandwiches ever, but they sort of got smaller in an inverse relationship to the price over the years. Here in Chicago we still buy Zingerman's brick street cheeses.

A gold medal to you on the shopping challenge! I'm overlooking the bobble with the liver sausage...

5:59 PM  
Blogger Dust-bunny said...

I do know the peanut butter should be refrigerated to retard oil separation, but I actually don't think it's imperative that you put it in there (I do myself; but I don't think you have to. Check the label; it will usually state on there whether or not it has to be refrigerated)!

...I think I might take that $20 challenge myself, although I'm sure I'll do better at Trader Joe's than the Wholefoods Market over here. At Wholefoods, I might be able to purchase two items if I'm lucky. And they don't even have paper bags with twine, only paper handles that break as you place them in your trunk.

Hope all is well with you and the family!

9:10 AM  
Anonymous AL said...

You got a lot of food for $20!

12:02 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

VICKIE--I knew mentioning Zingerman's would draw a reaction. I don't think I've had one of their sandwiches in a decade however.

DUST-BUNNY--I overheard a Trader Joes manager say that the largest Trader Joes in the country is in NYC. It does $1 million in business a day. The TJ's in Ann Arbor is the ninth largest in the country.

AL--Yeah, but you know usually we eat very low carb, very low fat. Honestly. But that stuff is expensive.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:28 PM  

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